Wednesday, July 18, 2007

July 18, 2007 Bonus Blog
Went to lunch with Carole Glenn at Saba's. Had a cool salad on the greens. Carole bought.

Relative Books Sales
"Read your stats re: books sold. Congrats. Well-deserved. Im pretty proud of the sales of my book, too— 50 copies sold nationwide. It is a book entitled 'An Introduction to Spirituality,' about addiction recovery (sobering topic) Self-published and I never did pursue a big distributor It is sold through Corrections Counseling Inc. in Tennessee No book-signing tours scheduled at this point."
—Steve Sanders

Prelude To A Post Conclusion
As promised, here's the three page letter tearing apart our coverage of The Battle of Big Dry Wash. The man's research who we based our article on, Dr. Sam Palmer, replies to each point:

Dear Mr. Bell:
I generally enjoy your magazine but in the August 2007 issue you wrote an article, “The Battle of Big Dry Wash”, which is full of errors and unsubstantiated statements. Part of the problem lies with your choice of references.

Dan Thrapp wrote well with the information he had at hand (1960’s). Since then other important sources have surfaced and have been written about by more recent historians—Collins, Sweeney, and Spicer for example. Doctor Sam Palmer must surely have been lacking many of the authentic sources when he came to some of his conclusions. Only the good Lord knows what Gus Walker was thinking when he concocted his maps.

I have taken the liberty of listing below the more blatant errors:

1. On page 60, paragraph 2, Adna Chaffee was a Captain (Bvt. Major) not a Colonel. Andrew W. Evans was a Major (Bvt. Lt. Colonel) at the time of the battle, not a Colonel as he is so identified on the upper map on page 61.

[Doctor Palmer responds: “In an undated letter to Britton Davis, Morgan recalled that “Major Chaffee ordered me to take a few men and cross the Canyon.” He does not refer to Brevet Major. Chaffee signs his reports as Captain not Brevet Major. Putting Col. Is a small glitch.”]

2. On page 61, paragraph 13, the battle ended because of failing light not a hail storm. The hail storm did not occur until about 10 am on July 18th as clearly stated in Major Evans report. Captain Chaffee’s report also does not mention a hail storm on July 17th. Sgt. Fred Platten’s account says the hail storm occurred about 10 am on the 18th of July and put a finish to their ‘mopping up” operations. (Platten was one of the late arrivers on July 18th from Fort Whipple and was one of the “mopper-uppers”).

[Doctor Palmer responds: "You have one source from a Sergeant in a command that showed up the next day and certainly did not participate in any 'mopping –up' action.

"'Apache’s Last Stand' – Will Barnes pp 45 - Cruse and Morgan gave the following particulars of the fight; “About dark the day of the fight a terrible thunderstorm such as are common in the mountains of Northern Arizona, swept across the country. The rain turned to hail which covered the ground…”

"Lt West recalled that the hail was so paralyzing that 'Major Chaffee got so cold and wet he had to stop swearing.'

"True West Magazine pp 71, July-August 1962 PP71 'It was now too lat to do much more. Darkness had come, and with it a raging hail storm, accompanied by lightning and thunder more severe than even the old-timer could remember.'

"Al Sieber – Battle of Big Dry Wash – pp 255 – 'It had been a day of fire and slaughter, and now a raging storm swept out of nowhere to put a stop to it.'

"Interview notes with George Morgan’s grandson 1989 – He stated that his grandfather told him that he had been shot and was sure he was going to die and that as the storm hit and it began to hail he cursed the thought of having been shot and now freezing to death.

"In an unpublished version of Cruse’s account he states 'We then fixed Morgan who was in great pain and chilled to the bone.'

"'Arizona Historical Review' - Morgan and Cruse commented that 'when they found poor Conn he was half buried in hail'

"Research with meteorologist Sean McLaughlin who stated that although there are no documented weather reports from the 1880’s the weather patterns for the Rim area have not changed significantly and it would be extremely unlikely that a Thunderstorm, let alone a thunderstorm with hail would occur in the a.m."]

3. Al Sieber and his small number of Indian scouts crossed at what was and is known as “Rock Crossing.” To do otherwise would have put them in plain view of the renegade pony guards who were located directly north of where the advancing Sieber party would have ascended. Reports state that Seiber and his scouts approached the pony heard from the east, which would have been accessed fromm “Rock Crossing” (Rock Crossing, unfortunately, was not included in this map—it would have made my conclusion more credible).

[Doctor Palmer responds: “The physical evidence of 45-75 cartridges disagrees with the assumption that Sieber crossed at Rock Crossing. Having spent nearly 25 years walking the battle field and the surrounding terrain, I can tell you that the pony herd guards would not have seen Sieber and the scouts. A study of a topo and actually walking the area (when Blue Ridge is dry) the presence of cartridges and having an observer present looking for someone proves that Rock Crossing was not the site used by Sieber and the others. I can show you where they left the horses before they crossed also.

"Morgan presentation – The papers of the Order of the Indian Wars 1940 – 'Finally He (Chaffee) directed me to take 18 of his men, get over the 'Wash' to the East and gain the mesa across the Wash' to the east of the Enemy’s position.' we had a very difficult problem getting to the bottom of the 'Wash' but once there it was safe enough running across to the opposite side where we were able to gain the top.]

4. On some early maps East Clear Creek does not descend the Rim as shown. It originates a mile or so to the east of present-day Potato Lake and flows generally northeast towards Winslow. It would have been enlightening for your readers to have this confusion explained.

[Doctor Palmer responds: "While Gus Walker did digress somewhat from the map I sent him, the map on page 61 does not show Chevlon Creek descending the rim – so what’s your point? Chaffee most likely consulted an old map that still showed East Clear Creek’s original name Big Dry Fork of the Little Colorado.]

5. On page 61, under “Apache Time Line”, you describe the prelude to the Battle of Big Dry Wash. You took it to April 18th, 1882 then with hardly a pause you jumped to July 6th 1882. Two paragraphs later the story ends abruptly. A whole bunch of interesting stuff happened between July 6th and July 18th, the day of the “mop-up.”

[Doctor Palmer responds: “So what, that’s not what the story was about!! There was a lot that happened after the battle – Read Haskell’s report dated Whipple Barracks, Prescott July 22, 1882, 12:05pm; Mason’s telegram received at Whipple Barracks July 25, 1882, 11 am; Evans telegram Dated Camp on Chevlon’s Fork July 19 via Verde 21 1882 Received Whipple Barracks, AT July 21, 1882 10;10am.]

6. On page 61, paragraph 1, you state the Bronco Apaches as being 54 in number, including women and children. On page 62, bottom paragraph, you state that Na-ti-o-tish gathered adherents along the Gila—and numbered about 54 fighting men. . .”. Na-ti-o-tish’s route of march was no where near the Gila River after he left the San Carlos agency and headed for McMillenville. You should be forgiven for this little glitch. The number reported varied greatly as did the number of hostiles killed. The early number of Bronco Apaches involved was 40 some with no distinction of how many were warriors, women, or children. Later, when the participants were pardoned at the insistence of Eastern do-gooders the number claiming participation rose. It seems everyone wanted to get in on the act. Likewise, the death count varied for several reasons. Some dead were carried from the field immediately after the battle. Some wounded died later where they had crawled off into shallow caves. (Many skeletons were reportedly found between Rock Crossing and Jones Crossing.) The official Army chronicles listed 16 hostiles dead, but that was at a time in history (the 1890’s) when the Army was minimizing the number of Indian deaths due to encounters with Whites. The actual body count at the battle site was 22 but this may not be accurate as the battle reports say that some of the renegades may have been helped along to the happy hunting grounds by Indian scouts who had old scores to settle.

6. [Doctor Palmer responds: “If you look at the map it shows the route of the Hostiles (no one called them Bronco Apache back then) all of the microfilm records refer to them as hostiles, this group or any other group that was not on the reservation. As to number your guess is as good as mine and you can give all the reason you want but the are the facts;

"Chaffee’s report – 14 bodies were left on the ground

"Evan’s telegram July 21, 1882 – 10 indian men left dead on the field.

"Dispatch received at San Francisco July 19, from Whipple Barracks 'During the night the Indians broke, leaving six dead bucks on the ground. The scouts report about 20 more were killed.

"Received at the War Department Presidio of San Francisco, July 17, 1882. The following received from Commanding General Department of Arizona. Hostile Indians – about forty-two, many women and children…

"'The Truth About Geronimo' – pp 38 there were fifty-four hostiles in the fight. We subsequently learned that twenty-one were killed on the ground.

"'True West' magazine pp 71, July-August 1962 (Dan Thrapp) 'A quick survey of he battle scene revealed 22 dead indians'

"Evans telegram July 18, 1882 – 'Hostile indians supposed to be about forty-two men, many women and children…'”]

7. On page 63, paragraph 2, under “Aftermath”, C.D. Wingfield was a boy at the time of the battle and his tory came to light in 1929 about 47 years after the battle and is the source of some of the ‘windies” and unfortunately a stretch of the imagination. His account of Private Pete’s demise is unauthenticated. Somewhere I have an account which states that Private Pete, who was assigned to Capt. Abbot’s group, was killed in the initial exchange of gun fire with the renegades who were heading south into the “Big Dry Fork” in their encircling maneuver. The Indians supposedly killed by Al Sieber was Private Sam who was left where he fell and presumably included amongst the body count of the dead hostiles. Private Pete was believed to be buried near Private McLernon.

[Doctor Palmer responds: “Private Pete – Killed at the Battle of Big Dry Wash. Private Sam was not killed at The Battle of Big Dry Wash.

"Private Sam appears on the monument at the site and official records as surviving the battle.

"Will Barnes – Private Pete was the only scout listed as killed in the battle and was apparently shot through the head.

"Chaffee report – Killed – Charley CoE Indian scouts

"Note – Since writing this report I have learned that Pete instead of Charley was the name of the Indian scout killed. No report of any other scout killed.

"The hostiles never attempted to “head south into Big Dry Fork” as stated in the letter. – They crossed a ravine west of their camp (as evidenced by the artifacts on the field) at which time they ran into the flanking troopers."]

9. The map at the top of page 61 has many errors. The report that the renegades plundered down gthe Salt River is to the best of my knowledge unsubstantiated. Capt. Drew from Fort Thomas rendezvouised with Evans proably at or near Gleason’s Flat and the main trial of the hostiles was also cut near here on the north side of the Salt. The hostiles killed rancher Gleason and his helper. Evans reports they followed the trail leading north on the high divide between Canyon and Cherry Creeks. They passed to the west of Sombrero Peak and Mustang Ridge which are both natural barriers. The map is erroneouis in that it shows the trail going north on the west side of Chery Creek after going down nearly to the confluence of Tonto Creek and the Salt River. The map on 61 shows the trail ascending the Mogollon Rim just south of Chevelon Creek. This is about 30 miles too far east. The hostiles and pursuing Army units actually ascended the Rim on the old Colonel Devin trail (also known as the Tunnel Trail). In fact, depredations at the Middleton, Sixby, Christopher, Roberts, Meadows, and Belluzzi ranches indicate the approximate route taken by the hostiles. Major Evans does a good job in his battle report on filling in the fine points of the renegade trail. (it should be remembered the hostiles were also driving about 100 head of stolen stock in addition to their own mounts. They sent small raiding parties off to right and left to do the mayhem while the main body pushed on towards the trail up the Rim.

[Doctor Palmer responds: “From Cruse’s unpublished account – 'Evans, left the post early on July 14th and by forced march reached the lower Cibicu (about a mile below the scene of the fight) a little before dark, and went into bivouac there, resuming the march the next morning, reaching the point where the San Carlos trail crossed the Salt river (exactly where Roosevelt Dam now is), at the mouth of Tonto Creek. Here is where the hostiles had camped awhile and the signs were very fresh. All patrols returned by dark and from their reports we determined that the main body had gone on the trail leading across the Tonto basin'

"'The Truth about Geronimo' – pp 42 – 'when the apaches reached the Salt River crossing the apache trail they had sent some of their party down the river to raid ranches in the valley, the main body continuing along the trail north'

"Headquarters Department of Arizona Whipple Barracks, Prescott July 31, 1882

“killing 16 warriors whose bodies were found, and the capture of the hostiles camp, saddle and reserved ammunition, 9500 metallic cartridges Cal. 45, of 100 horses and mules (including those killed and 6 squaws and children.'

"Evans telegram July 21, 1882 – The number of horses killed on the trail is now reported as 17. This accounting for over 100.

"Evans report - “the herd captured numbered some 80 odd head”]

The shame of all this is that you have perpetuated some untruths and “windies” in your article. I wish somhow we could undo what has been done. Myself and a friend (who is a close frined of the late Jim Walker) might be able to assist in such an effort if you are interested, and I hope you are interested. . .a follo-up article would fill in some of the voids in your article and diplomatically correct the errors. It could be titled: “The Battle of Big Dry Wash—Prelude to Conclusion.” My friend can supply computer-generated maps far superior to those used in the article.

—David T. Ricker

[Doctor Palmer’s final response: “There is so much more I could tell you about the Battle of Big Dry Wash but it is obvious you already think you know everything. I have visited the site a least 2 dozen times a year for the last 25 years. I have visited all the sites along the trail leading to the battle and have aerials and satellite imagery of the entire route. I showed the late Jim Walker where the staging area was after he had visited the site for 20 years."]

"Who says we are obsessed beyond all reason?"
—Professor Bancock

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